Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Midway Memories: Bucky, Mitch, Freddie and Billy

The Austin Minnesota “gang.”  Bucky and Mitch Buxton were brothers.  Freddie and Billy Grover were brothers.

The Grover’s were a very large family, they lived next to a grocery store owned by Bud Butler.  In an earlier blog I wrote about Butch Butler having the largest show on the West Coast.  Billy came out first and worked the Wheel.  Al Merriam left the show one day to put up advertising in another town…while he is away Billy and another ride boy by the name of Jerry Perkel started riding the rims. ( The rims on the Ferris Wheel.)  They would grab onto the angle iron that separated two spokes and would ride all the way over the top, upside down and would let go at the ground…of course this kind of foolishness was not approved of by Al…he heard about it.  The next morning it was real hot, he set up a card table and an umbrella between the two Ferris Wheels (possibly Al had a glass of lemonade.) He gave each of them a bucket of gasoline and a rag and told them to clean his Ferris Wheels.  Four or five hours later he told them “That is a pretty good job but I don’t want to ever hear of you riding the rims again.”
Billy Grover and Margaret
Billy and Margaret
The great Cambridge Fight: The ride boys and the jointees never really got along until later years.  So Red and George (jointees) are in the hotel in Cambridge so Billy and another guy went to their room and a fight broke out, a chair was busted over Billy’s head and a certain relative was thrown down the stairs.  Billy spent two weeks in the hospital, once he got out of there he was supposed to go to jail but Al went and talked to the authorities and told them “Billy is a pretty good kid, if you let him off, give him to me and I will make sure he doesn’t cause anymore problems in town.”  We are not sure why a certain relative didn’t end up in jail…perhaps Al put in a good word for him too…afterall he was a kid from Ogden.
Freddie was great. He had the greatest sense of humor.  Far Guy says “He was happy go lucky but bad luck seemed to follow him around.”  For instance one night after he had finished a bottle of soda he tossed it over his shoulder and it hit a kid in the mouth and busted his teeth out.
Bucky was out on the road when Far Guy got his electric guitar in 1965. A fun loving guy, that first night with a electric guitar Far Guy only knew how to play a few songs, Bucky requested Boney Maronie…Far Guy didn’t know it so he played Wipeout whilst Bucky sang Boney Maronie. Bucky and Mitch worked joints.
Bucky Buxton Bucky on the right in 2005
Mitch in he Skee Ball
Mitch in a Skee Ball Joint in 2005
Freddie and Mitch started their own game, going into business for themselves.  They wanted to frame up a joint, they needed 2 x 4’s but it was Sunday and no lumber yards were open.  They showed up with lumber and Al Merriam asked then where they got the lumber on a Sunday…Freddie said “ What lumber?” Al said “The lumber with the cement on it.”  Most likely it came from some construction project somewhere.
Freddie in a pool game
Freddie in 2005
When the Merry Go Round Foreman was unable to take the Merry Go Round apart which was quite often…Al would come and get Freddie to do it…Freddie would try to hide from Al on tear down night.

One of the joints that Freddie and Mitch had was a Paint Spin Joint.  I ran it for them one afternoon in Algona Iowa.  It was pretty easy, you took the money and put a piece of paper on a wheel and let people squirt paint on the paper as it spun on the wheel and hung it up to dry….this was in 1968.  They had important business someplace and I think I made a quarter for every fifty cent picture. What kind of important business…who knows..might have been for whacky tobacky.

Bucky died in 2007, he was a Vietnam Veteran.   Mitch died in 2012.   Both were liver transplant recipients.  Both spent most of their lives out on the road.  Mitch was known as “Concessionaire extraordinaire.” 

Billy and Freddie are both still living.  We see Freddie from time to time, he has a string of joints out on a show that stays in Minnesota for the most part. One of Danny Suber’s sons works for Freddie.  Freddie lives in Louisiana in the winter.  Billy gave up the show business, he had no college education but wrote computer programs for a living.

Either you have Sawdust flowing through your veins or not.  
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Cynthia said...

These stories always make me think of the annual county 4-h fairs that were part of my life for almost 50 years and that sense of fun and danger the midway and the "carnie people" provided. I hope you have many more to share!

Henny Penny said...

I am amazed at your memory, the names and places and people. It gave me chills to even hear about those guys riding the rims on the ferris wheel. I am afraid to ride sitting in one of the seats. The last time I rode the ferris wheel, I promised the Lord that if He would get me back on the ground safe, I would never get on another one...and I haven't.

Rita said...

I am also amazed at your memory for names and places. I was bad at that even when I was a imagine now--LOL! Love these stories!! :)

Sam I Am...... said...

You could have your own t.v. reality show about these people and I bet it would be more interesting than most of them on t.v.. Oh....and you could have left out the story about 'riding the rims' hands started sweating and aching just imagining it!